It’s a damn shame we have to rely on dubious characters like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange to ignite a real debate about our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The ones who should be raising the alarm are our elected representatives in Congress, not some ham-handed whistleblowers.
The problem is not that we have a high-tech spying apparatus. A wealthy, powerful country needs an effective intelligence machine to keep its strategic edge and protect its citizens. The problem is that Congress has rammed through bad legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that leaves the door wide open for intelligence agencies and corporate interests to do whatever they want without accountability. Such laws, compounded with a total lack of Congressional oversight, have removed the checks and balances we need to keep security measures in line with our Constitutional rights. If you allow that much room for abuse, don’t be surprised if somebody exploits it.